When going abroad or visiting a faraway unfamiliar place, the one thing that most people always feel the need to mention is the "culture shock" they experienced while they were away. They talk about the language, manners, customs, religion, architecture, food, art, and all of the other aspects of culture that differ from their own. This "culture shock" seems to be the token topic of conversation as it pertains to their growth as an individual or knowledgeable member of the human race. But a "culture shock" does not have to be a staple of a trip abroad. It can happen even when just moving across the United States of America.
I was born and raised in the Midwest. Coca-cola was called "pop." You got your ice cream from Dairy Queen or Coldstone, your coffee at Starbucks, and your late-night eats with friends at a Coney Island. Your snow days were only called when there was at least a foot of snow on the ground, and the school buses could not drive out of their parking lots. You went "up north" during weekends in the summer, and you knew at least three people with their own boats on a local lake. And if you were lucky enough to be near a Great Lake, you were lucky enough.
When I went out of state for college, I quickly realized that my way of life was not the norm for many of my classmates. Smiling and greeting everyone I saw was no longer considered polite, but a little weird, since I did not know them. The way I said my "a"s was considered odd too. "It's not 'aye,' it's 'ah,'" I was told with countless eye rolls and sometimes a question about where I was from as though I had incorrectly studied the English language. And don't you dare call your Coke "pop!"
After almost three years in the Northeast, however, I have learned to juggle the cultures of these two regions. I am not purely a Midwesterner or a resident of the Northeast, but a combination of both. I do not feel the need to greet everyone I see while walking or running on Route 2, but I do when going around the neighborhood back home. I go to Friendly's, but Coldstone will always be my weakness when I come home. I cannot change my Midwestern accent, but I do find that it gets stronger after breaks at home.
Ultimately, however, one thing will always remain Midwestern about me: when I order a Coke, it is called a "pop."